Ladies, this is how guys feel right before they ask you out.
Most of you intimidate us.
While describing this feeling, most hack writers like myself might say “I’ve got butterflies in my stomach.” But Philip K. Dick describes that sensation in a much more articulate, unique way.
This, from Ubik:
Here we go.
It’s time to take a look at the next five books I’ll be reading from the Time list, with your input and suggestions last week.
These novels will numbers 65-69, and I’ll start them once I finish Ubik. When I’m done reading this next batch, I’ll be more than two-thirds of the way finished with the list.
So here are the novels I’ve chosen, in no particular order.
Tomorrow, I’ll review my 63rd book from the Time list, The Sot-Weed Factor.
That means I have 38 books remaining from the list, including Ulysses, to round out the 101 books.
It’s definitely not the homestretch, but I can at least see the homestretch off in the distance.
So which books remain? Here are the 38 novels, in alphabetical order. (Note that I’ve scheduled Ubik as my next book.)
Sometimes it’s just fun to read passages out of context.
You might not have read the book. You might not have any idea who the characters are. But, hey, these are awesome retweetable quotes!
Okay, the passages below are hardly tweetable. These Old English dialogue is taxing.
But in the context of The Sot-Weed Factor, these are a couple of my favorites.
Below, we have two of the main characters, Ebenezer Cooke and his former mentor—a fellow named Henry Burlingame—discussing Ebenezer’s slacker tendencies in the beginning of the novel.
The Sot-Weed Factor is great.
It’s definitely an acquired taste. At 700 pages, and with a unique, old-world style of writing, the novel isn’t a swift read.
To enjoy it, you’ll have to settle in and embrace these characters. It doesn’t hurt if you appreciate a quirky, twisted sense of humor (think Monty Python).
If I had to describe The Sot-Weed Factor in two words, those two words would be “prostitutes” and “poop.” Prostitutes and poop make up about half of the novel.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. In the passage below, the Poet Laureate of Maryland, Ebenezer Cooke, and his friend Henry have run into two men they believe to be pirates.
Forget about all my negativity on Tuesday about The Sot Weed Factor. Yes, the Old English style is tiring. Yes, it’s wordy and archaic.
And, yes, that’s the point. It is satire, after all. I think I’m starting to grasp a little of what Barth is trying to do with this novel. Part of his satirical brilliance is illustrated in the form of the chapter titles.
We all know that no self-respecting literary-minded novelist uses chapter titles, right? If anything, they simply enumerate the chapters and nothing else, right?
Wrong! Not John Barth, at least.
Not only does John Barth use chapter titles, he uses extremely wordy chapter titles that pretty much say everything.
Tell me if these aren’t the best chapter titles you’ve ever read.
To start, I’ll simply say that Loving, for me, has been a dive into mediocrity.
The story feels uninspired, but the writing is outstanding. I’ll dive more into the negatives in my review tomorrow.
Until then, I thought I’d share a positive. This is a beautifully descriptive passage from Loving. In this scene some of the servants are headed out for a picnic on their day off:
It’s hard for me to think that, just 50 years ago, in the decade prior to the one in which I was born, America was segregated. “Separate but equal” laws were prevalent all over the U.S., but especially in the south.
I don’t get racism. The foundations of my faith are based on the premise that someone greater than us created us all equal. The fact that, since the beginning of time, racism has popped its ugly head up all over the world, in all types of races and cultures, just doesn’t make sense to me.
As an American, I’m used to reading about racism within our country over the last century. It always makes me cringe, but it’s nothing new.
However, I haven’t read a lot about racism in other parts of the globe, and that’s what keeps A Passage To India interesting to me.
Sixty books down. I’m nearly two-thirds finished with 101 Books.
After every ten books, I take a look back on the project as a whole and re-evaluate some of my favorite and least favorite aspects of the books. So that’s what today’s about.
Let’s take a look back at the first 60 novels. I’ll explain my rankings more in-depth in a post next week.
If it feels like I’ve posted a lot about A Death In The Family, it’s because I have. But if you’re ready to move on, this is my final post about the novel before the review on Tuesday.
James Agee lost his father when he was a child. That experience inspired A Death In The Family. It’s a sad story, in ways I’ve already explained.
Early in the novel, there’s a strange dream sequence. Everything is written in italics, and Agee’s style makes a poetic transition.
The following passage from that sequence blew me away.